tv Nancy Grace HLN January 15, 2010 8:00pm-9:00pm EST
gorgeous 23-year-old mom takes off from home, tempe, arizona, by car for a 978-mile road trip with her 8-month-old baby boy, gabriel. she ends up holed up in a hotel alone, and calling the biological dad threatening he would never see the baby again, even telling him baby gabriel is dead. turns out, mommy is trying to give the baby away the whole time to an arizona couple. mommy alone, no baby gabriel, hops a bus for florida december 27, the day after the last known
signing of baby gabriel alive. her car abandoned. december 30, mommy located in miami beach, minus the baby. the car recovered, san antonio, motel 6, car seat still inside. when pressed, the mommy says she gives the baby away that she bumps into at a texas park. tonight, the mystery of the baby with the angel face. baby gabriel. it's not that i know where he is, but like i told your staff, we have been talking for the past couple days trying to brainstorm where he is. >> breaking news in the search for missing baby, gabriel johnson. in the last hours, police conduct a search at the home of the couple who planned to adopt
gabriel. >> arizona police say the couple wanted to adopt gabriel johnson are now persons of interest in his disappearance. >> investigators spent several hours at the smith's home but won't reveal what they were looking for or what was seized. >> they would not say why jack and tamm i smith are people are interest. >> the smiths, person of interests in the case were questioned again by police, and tammi smith admits she lied about how her cousin's name ended up to a document. despite that fib, she is not hiding anything. >> the smiths say they are glad to be called persons of interest by police. >> i am happy if that elevates us to where they will come and talk to us, because if we have
not been people of interests at this point it's time that we be and they come and examine everything. >> we are learning more information about the evidence that police are using to track down the location of little baby gabriel. we already know they have a gps unit retrieved from elizabeth johnson's car, and they are using that to track some of her movements while she was here in san antonio. and there was a camera that was restratrieved that was on her b when she was arrested. hopefully something in the pictures will help track down her movements around san antonio, and hopefully it will give them more clues in finding the child that for now is still missing, and the mother is not talking to investigators. >> also, in a major development last night police served a search warrant at the home of the persons of interest, tammi
and jack smith. what else do we know about that search at the home? >> at this point we know the search took four hours. police questioned the smiths for two hours and then searched the home. we don't know exactly what was taken from the home. tammi smith tells us hard drives were taken and they were looking for a link to gabriel's disappearance. they are not saying exactly why or if the questioning of tammi smith last night is what led to the search. >> actually, tammi smith is with us right now. tammi, how long were the police at your home last night? >> i would say six hours. >> do you know what they were looking for or what they took from your home? >> yes, they were looking for everything inside of our computers and inside our phones. we volunteered that undinformat since day one to prove our innocence, and we are extremely happy they came and got it. they didn't have to do it the way they did, since we
volunteered it since day one, and i begged them to come to my house and take my computers. >> what types of things were you hoping they would be looking for on your computers? what information would be relevant to the search? >> in the beginning, in talking to the police, they asked us did we ever try to help her. i said the only way we tried to help her was before we knew she could change whether or not she could change, she was telling us that she was going to run, go into hiding and change her social security number and we panicked at that point and we did not point that baby to vanish into thin air for the rest of his life, and we were grabbing at straws like the police are right now, trying to figure out how to keep the baby surfaced. we thought of scenarios and we talked to people and friends about the scenario, we have a house in tennessee, and things like that that maybe she could
go and stay there. we could get her stay there and help her and while she is changing jurisdictions. by the next day after doing research throughout the next day, we realized, oh, she cannot change jurisdictions. it's illegal. so immediately we started telling her you need to come back, you can't change jurisdictions. and i called janet morris from tennessee saying she is not coming back, i don't know what to do can you tell her what her legal rights and get her back here. that's what janet did. our computer will collaborate that entire story. >> were you exchanging stories or in contact with elizabeth johnson after she left san antonio? >> yes, i have myspace here, and i say on the 29th, i believe in my heart you would never hurt
him, but you are roerping that you killed the baby. the lead detectives of the case really feel for you and he wants to help you. call detective aguilera, and it gives his phone number and he truly wants to help you. she sends a message back saying i will never come forward and what i said was wrong, but i wanted him to hurt like he hurt me, and that's why i said that. she said we are fine and she goes on through the whole story. and then in the end i had to let you know that we are all right because i know you must be worried sick and i am so sorry for that, i really am. you and jack are good people. >> did you know -- >> there is a lot of that. there is text messages back and forth asking her to come back, to come to court, we will get an attorney for her and things like that. so now the police have all of that evidence, and now hopefully they will see that and, you
know, because we told them but they never get it and they never looked at it. hopefully that will show them that we should not be persons of interest at this point because we obviously were looking out for her best interests and making sure that she did everything correct and legal. >> now, tammi police also talked to you last night, right, you were questioned by police last night? >> yeah, questions about the same things, about, you know, if you come forward now, you know, and come clean, you know, and there is nothing to come clean. i didn't -- they think that i set her up with a couple. i did not set her up with a couple. they can search through every ounce of my computers and see that i never -- you know, there was nothing. there was absolutely nothing. i would have had to take a flight somewhere and go sit in an airport looking for a couple for her to adopt the kid out to,
come forward, and state your name and date of birth. you have been arrested on new charges alleging child abuse, a class 2 felony, and one count of kidnapping, a class two felony. i will appoint the public defender to represent you. does the state wish to be heard? >> yes, your honor. good morning. in this case the state is asking that the defendant be held on a $1 million cash bond. child abuse and custodial
interference. while these are the only charges that the defendant is currently facing, a real potential that she could face more serious charges in the future. this is because in her own words she stated that she killed gabriel. your honor, i just want to briefly touch on the facts in the case which warrant a high bond. on december 11th of 2009, the defendant and logan w mcqueary with the judge. on december 27th, 2009, the date that logan was supposed to get gabriel from the defendant, he receive add text message from her stating that gabriel was dead. in a subsequent conversation with logan, the defendant told logan that she killed gabriel,
that she put him in a diaper bag and had thrown him in a dumpster. and she admitted that she did send that text message to logan stating that gabriel was dead. >> i am sorry, through a what? >> through a text message. >> she admitted that to? >> in a media interview. your honor, after the conversation with logan where she told him that she put him in a diaper bag and through him in a dumpster, she told him that she was not going to tell him gabriel's location until she was out of the country and in a safe location. from this point, the search for the defendant and gabriel ensued. the defendant refused to tell investigators or logan where she was located, and investigators began a nationwide search. if it were not for the hard work
of the tempe police department and the fbi in this case the defendant would still be on the run. she did everything that she could to conceal her identification, paid in cash and used a different name, a false name. if the defendant in this case gets out of custody, no question that she is a flight risk. not only are the facts of the case the fact that she has already fled, raised the risk for her flight, but she knows that she is currently facing higher charges in this case because gabriel cannot be found. your honor, one of the most important reasons that she is deserving of the million cash bond is because of the danger she poses. to this date gabriel has not been found. the search is still on. the defendant is the only person who knows where gabriel is and if he is dead or alive. she refuses to cooperate to tell anybody where anybody is. there are two victims in the
case, logan and 8-month-old gabriel. the defendant took gabriel from his father, concealed him, ran to texas, and somewhere in texas says she left gabriel with strangers and or killed him. we have no idea the harm gabriel has suffered or is continuing to suffer in this case, because the defendant refuses to tell anybody where he is or if he is dead or alive. there is a real possibility that gabriel is not a live to this date. he may be dead. he may be alive. if he is a live there is no telling what danger he is currently in. this is all because of the defendant. your honor, the charges that the defendant is facing in this case, the fact that she is an extreme flight risk, the danger that she poses and the harm to the victims in this case all warrant a bond of a million dollars cash only. thank you. >> thank you.
and she was apprehended in texas? >> in miami, your honor. she was actually -- shoee was located in texas but not found until she made it to miami. >> ma'am, i have appointed the public defender to represent you. i noted you shaking your head in disagreement -- >> yes, everything she was saying was false. >> please do not interrupt. i know you were disagreeing by shaking your head back and forthwith comments made by the county attorney at various times during her statement. while i recognize you may have a different view of what was said, i am going to urge or ask you not to make any statements here this morning given that you have been appointed an attorney and that obviously that attorney is not present.
that said, if you elect to cooperate and talk to people, that is up to you. but understand that anything that you say and hear may be used against you. this is all being recorded. after this, is there anything that you want to ask me or tell me? >> i don't know what to say, but everything is so false, everything she said is so completely false. i don't know what else to say but that. >> very well. thank you. i have reviewed the form 4s, and i considered the statements of the state and the recommendation made by the county attorney, and given the gravity of the case and the serious -- very serious allegations as well as the concerns for the continued welfare of this child, it is
ordered setting a cash-only bond of $1 million. that -- there are actually two different cases at this point. are they under the same case number? >> your honor, i do not believe that they are. they are not, your honor. the direct complaint does have a different case number. i believe that she -- the charges that will go forward from this point are the new case number that she just has been page 2'd on. >> i will set a million cash-only bond. i don't want to set the cash only in both cases. i will set $1 million cash only bond with respect to the number 27 on the calendar.
the other matter being a class 4 and the court being advised that the state will likely be proceeding under number 27 alone, it's ordered setting $100,000 cash only bond as to that case. so at this point, $1,100,000 cash-only bond in these two cases. and we're going to set these matters in the regional court center in the southeast facility, and my clerk will give you the paperwork for the date, time and location of the hearings. should you post these bonds, you are not to leave this jurisdiction, and you are not to
have any contact with the father, and is there anything else? >> not from the state. thank you, your honor. >> all right. thank you. thank you, ma'am. >> when do i get a lawyer? >> i'm sorry? >> when do i get a lawyer? i don't understand. >> we appointed a lawyer now, and we will give you instructions on how to contact your lawyer. >> thank you.
elizabeth johnson has been charged with kidnapping and child abuse and custodial interference. >> we do know that logan mcqueary brought the charges against her before, bringing cps saying there was a claim against her, she left the baby in the grip, and he would come home from work and the baby had not been changed with a soiled diaper. >> authorities say they are confident he is alive. what can you tell me about what baby gabriel's mother, elizabeth johnson, says in her jailhouse interviews? >> well, this reporter asked
her, you sent a text message you killed your son, and you are telling us now you don't know where he is? do you realize how serious this looks against you? and elizabeth johnson said, no, i don't. i did the same thing giving the baby to tammi and nobody had a problem with it. everybody thought it was a good thing, and everybody was commending me and i don't understand what the problem is now. jack smith told elizabeth johnson, without the baby, because of what you said, no reason for everybody to believe you have not taken the baby's life. if these people were able to keep him in saw clueson. >> jack smith went on and said, elizabeth, if you know -- if you have any way you can identify even where these people -- and johnson said, i have, i talked to the fbi, and i cooperated and told them everything.
johnson said, i made a hasty decision, and i thought it would be okay -- i thought it would be okay. they approached me and they came up to me. i was alone in the park with the baby. i trusted them. i believe in my heart they are good people. now, the reporter asked her, so in other words, you really don't know if your son is alive or not? johnson said, i know that he is. the reporter said, how? she said, i believe he is. the reporter said you believe that he is, but you don't know for a fact your son is alive? elizabeth johnson said, i mean, i am in jail, how could i know anything? the reporter asked her you don't understand the fact that there is a problem with the fact that you don't know who has your child right now and if he is alive and well? johnson said, well, i mean, when you give the child up for adoption, you really don't know where the people live or anything. johnson said i met them, the texas couple in san antonio.
they approached me and came up to me and i was alone with the baby at the park. i was upset and crying. i have been approached before in the same situation with tammi, and they just said is everything okay? i was like, i don't know. i don't know what i am going to do. i was just a wreck. they were reaching out to me and offering their help listening, and i was just crying.
there would not nothing that they could charge us with, because we have done nothing. we have done everything the police asked us. >> the person of interest in the case of missing baby gabriel johnson lied about how her cousin's name ended up to a court document. but she swears she told police everything she knows about the disappearance. >> the people that wanted to adopt baby gabriel say they
don't know where gabriel is. >> the home of persons of interest, jack and tammi smith, searched by investigators last night. tammi smith tells us police were looking for computer evidence and paperwork, but insists they don't know where gabriel is now, and they were only trying to get him back to arizona. >> everything that she said has been completely unreliable. >> she barely is cooperating. >> she did not want logan to have the baby and we could not adopt the baby because logan would not sign the papers, so her idea was to keep running forever. >> do you believe your son is still alive at this point? >> yes. >> why? >> it's just a feeling. >> there is a court document filed back in december, lists two potential fathers for little baby gabriel. one of them, logan mcqueary, the man determined to be his natural father, and another man named craig cheery. you said craig is your cousin.
you did not realize elizabeth had written the name on there, but you remember that you wrote the name. can you explain the discrepancy? >> it was one of those things where we were rushing through there, and they were about to lock the doors, and she asked me to fill out that one part. it was one of those things, i had been waiting for a week to talk to the police about this. i guess since i had not talked to the police, i was brushing it off to the media because i wanted to talk to them and explain the whole situation to them first. >> did you explain this to the police last night? >> yesterday, during the day, yesterday. and what that was was she said for the potential father, that father went to high school with her and logan, and she feared the violent things that logan could do this her and this guy, and i will not mention it because i don't believe it now
that he would have done these things. i thought i was saving two people from being gravely hurt as well as another family because she wanted to make up a name and put it down. i said you cannot do that. she was like, let's just put jack's name. and i said, no, no, no. and they were pushing us to hurry and get the paperwork because they were locking the doors, and that's basically that was done. at the moment i did forget that i wrote it down. when i saw, and they showed me the paper, i could have denied that i did not write it, but i said, oh, my god, that is my writing, and i did not realize that i had actually written that little part there. >> let me ask matt, let's clear it up once and for all. didn't the court determine that logan mcqueary was baby g gabriel's natural father? >> yes, his name is on the birth certificate. >> and let's go to pat brown,
and you are a profiler and author of "killing for sport." the persons of interests, and the potential adoptive parents questioned last night. it's been a week since they were named persons of interest, why wait a week to question them? >> when they came up with this, i think it was kind of like, it got them a little suspicious. look, if you are lying about one thing maybe you are lying about a lot of things. and that gives them probable cause to think there could be something else, then. is it true it could lead to something else? i don't know. i have a hard time believing that particular part. >> and also, michael board, let me ask you, is there any indication police have evidence that the baby is alive or any evidence that he is dead or has been harmed somehow? i know the police in san antonio
are also doing an investigation. what do you know about it? >> what we know is what elizabeth is saying. we know she told the birth father that she killed him and stuffed his little blue body in the diaper bag and dumped it in a dumpster. whether she is lying or not, they are looking for that. they found out where the trash is in those locations where she was and tracked that trash to one landfill here in san antonio. that's proof, even though they have not searched the landfill, it's proof they are taking it serious. and she said she gave the baby over to at one time a couple to a person at a park and another time at a hotel, and it's hard to know which part is the truth. >> we know that elizabeth johnson allegedly sent a text to the boy's father that said i killed him.
he called her and according to him she later reiterated that she killed the baby. now she says i did it to hurt the boy's father. what do you think is the real story here? >> i think when somebody makes a serious threat to self or others, it's a legal and professional obligation to step in and take it very, very seriously. i am hoping in this case that a pass behavior is a predictor of future behavior. the fact that biomom tried to give away the baby once to tammi and jack smith, it would suggests perhaps hopefully she did try to give the baby away again. i am sure there is a huge online community of people desperate for babies and do not want to go through legal channels. i am hoping that's what happened. however, this mother, her life was deteriorating. her attachment to the baby was deteriorating according to the baby sitter, anna lisa when she came to baby sit the child at
the hotel, the baby was skinny and dirty and crying and had burgers around his nose as if the mother no longer cared. and that could be that the mother was preparing for the baby to decease and no longer be alive. >> i was very upset about what this has done to my family, you know. i started to talk to her about that. i started to cry a little bit. as i did that, her eyes welled up with tears, and she got upset and very, very apologetic. i went on to ask her numerous questions. you know, you have to remember, this girl is a smart girl. she has a 4.0 gpa and a four-year scholarship to southeastern. she knows what she is doing.
elizabeth johnson, 7-24-86. >> she appeared something totally different than what she wound up being. we feel quite duped. breaking news, an 18-year-old baby sitter took care of gabriel johnson a few days before christmas at a san antonio hotel where he was staying with his mother. johnson told the baby sitter said she was going to an important appointment, but the
sitter says she looked like she was going to a club. >> she found a couple with a new car seat. >> the couple came to the hotel room, and signed a document, and had a new car seat with them and put the baby in the car seat and left. >> with me right now, a very special guests joining us in a primetime exclusive from san antonio, texas, the baby sitter that came to that motel room, and who saw baby gabriel and saw the mother, elizabeth johnson. with me is anna lisa. thank you for being with us. what is the first thing you saw when you got into that hotel room? >> the first thing that i saw was she opened the door and she looked like she wanted to kill me. she looked very angry. and i walked in, and she handed me the baby and told me his name and left. >> when you say she looked like she wanted to kill you, what do
you mean by that? >> when she opened the door, she looked like she wanted to kill me. she looked very angry and upset. she looked like she was basically crazy. >> when you say crazy, what do you mean? describe her features. what did her face look like? >> her eyes were -- her eyes got very small. her nose was crumbled up, and her mouth was closed tightly. she looked mad. she looked angry. >> was the baby crying? >> he was not crying when i got there. but the whole time that i was there, he was crying. >> when you walked into the room, where was the baby? >> she -- she was holding him. >> okay. what was the first thing that she said to you? >> she said, you're late, and this is gabriel, and he is 8
months old. she told me he should be due for a feeding in an hour. she told me where his enfamil was and then left. >> what about the tylenol? >> she told me she already drugged him up with medication, but that if he started to cry again, give him medicine to shut him up. >> what condition was the baby in? >> he looked very thin. he definitely was not happy. he seemed to be scared for some reason. >> why do you say he seemed to be scared? >> because if i was trying to hold him -- when i was holding him, if i would put him down, he would cry as soon as i put him down. >> was he clean? >> no, he wasn't. i would try to play with him, and he did not want to play. all he wanted to do was be held.
he did not smile at all or anything. >> when you say he was not clean, what do you mean by that? >> i mean, he had like stains around his mouth. he had dry, you know, look boogers around his clothes, and he did not look clean or happy. >> were their toys there for baby gabriel? >> no, there wasn't. the room did not look suitable for a baby. she did not have toys or books for him to read or anything like that. >> so everything was for her and nothing was there for baby gabriel? >> correct. >> did the baby seem lethargic at times, listless, inactive, tired? >> he didn't seem tired. he just seemed like he was scared. he did not want to do anything. like i said, he did not want to
play or anything like that. >> he would just lay there? >> well, he was not laying there, i was holding him. but, yeah, he was just sitting there. he did not want to do anything. >> how much baby food did she have for him? >> she had a tube of orajel and a baby tylenol. >> so how was elizabeth johnson dressed when she left? >> she was dressed like she was going out to a club. she was wear tight, low-cut jeans. a tight blouse showing half of her stomach and big heels on. >> where did she say she was going? >> she told me she was going to an important appointment. >> how long was she gone? >> she was gone for two hours at the most. >> what time of the day or night
was it that you went to the hotel? >> i got at the hotel at around 11:45 in the morning. >> 11:45 in the morning. and you believe this was the 20th, the 19th or 20th? >> yes, i do. >> how did baby gabriel act while you were with him? did you feed him? >> yes, i fed him. i fed him a bottle, and i fed him some baby food. he acted very scared, like i said. >> what did you observe in the hotel room, anna lisa? >> one thing that i noticed that kind of scared me a little bit was she had like kind of like a butcher knife next to her bed. >> what else did you observe? was the room clean and tidy? >> no, the room was very messy.
she had clothes thrown everywhere. she had all of her things thrown. >> i want to go back to the baby. you said he was thin. i noticed in some of the earlier pictures, he looks normal. chubby cheeks. but i noticed in other pictures he was starting to look thin. how did he take the bottle? did he take the whole thing? >> yes, he did. when i gave it to him, he got excited. that was the only type that he actually smiled was when he got the bottle. >> did you hold him most of the time? >> yes, i held him the whole time that i was there. like, he did not want to be put down. when i would try to put him down to play with him, he started crying. >> you stated every time you tried to put him doiwn, he woul scream. you stated he would not play
with you. do you find that odd that a baby would not play with you? >> i do, because i never came across a baby that was so sad and scared. >> why do you say that? you have had a lot of experience with young children, you practically raised all of your siblings. why do you say you never have seen a baby so afraid and sad? >> every baby that i have either -- that i came in contact with is very happy, and they like to play, for sure. they don't seem scared the way gabriel did. >> what did you do to try and play with him, anna lisa? there were no toys. >> i tried bouncing him on my leg up and down. i tried smiling at him. i tried to play peek-a-boo with him, but nothing worked. >> what did you do with the hours that you were with him? just hold him?
>> yes, i was trying to play him and make him happy at least while i was there. >> did anybody come to the door? >> yes. elizabeth told me if anyone knocked at the door not to answer it. but then the housekeeper came and opened the door with the key. >> when she finally returned, did she say she would or would not need you back as a babysitter? >> when i asked her if she would need me again, she said she wasn't sure because she didn't know what she was going to go next with her life. >> when she came back, was she in a better mood? >> yes, she was in a much better mood. >> did she look the same as when she left? i mean, did she still have on the same outfit, was her hair the same? >> yeah, she looked the same when she came back, just much happier. >> at any point did she ask you what you credentials or experience was?
would you state your name and date of birth? >> the arizona mother at the center of the baby gabriel missing boy case is in jail in mare copa county, arizona. >> tonight, mommy in court before a judge when she interrupted repeatedly. cops an attitude. >> you've been arrested on a warrant alleging custodial interference, a class four felony. you've also been arrested on new charges alleging child abuse, a class two felony and one count of kidnapping. >> johnson is being held on a cash-only, $1.1 million bond. >> she's currently facing
charges of kidnapping, a class two felony. child abuse, a class four felony. and custodial interference. >> anything you want to ask me or tell me? >> umm, i don't know what to say, but everything is so false. >> it's false, it's false, it's false. when police ask her to help them find the baby, she says nothing. nothing about the conversation she had with this couple, nothing. zero. >> at the bail hearing, prosecutors said at one point johnson claimed she killed her son, put his body in a diaper bag and threw him in the trash. but police don't believe that or her. >> we want to believe that somebody has that baby. zach was extremely choked up and you guys are saying things about diaper bags and stuff and we just don't want to hear that. >> she's not telling them anything, helping them to make a
sketch. >> we're told johnson stayed at this hotel sometime between december 20th and the 26th. >> the clerk remembers johnson checking in and she may have had the baby with her in the car seat. with you thing is for sure, he says she did not use her own name. >> wans we did start to talk with her, she said her plan was to keep running. >> elizabeth knows exactly what took place. and as far as what the -- whether it's the key or only a little more information, i can't tell you that until i get the information itself. >> let's stop and remember army private kiefer wilhelm, just 19, plymouth, ohio. from a military family, awarded the army commendation medal, national defense service medal. loved music, computers, game, bond fires with friends and family. remembered for his big bear hugs. leaves behind parents, stepmom,
five siblings, including brother shannon serving in the air force. kiefer wilhelm, american hero. thank you to our guest but our biggest thank you to you for being with us. see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp eastern. until then, good night, friend. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com coming up on "the joy behar show," apparently there's been some shakeup of some kind at nbc. i really hope jay and conan were involved. and then the latest on tiger woods. we hear he's in arizona, but is he there for sex rehab or is he just there to get some tips from that lady's man, john mccain. and mandy moore, she'll be here in the studio. all that happening after this short break.